Like a walk in the park

> The Theam sis­ters go the ex­tra mile so you’ll have your best foot for­ward

The Sun (Malaysia) - - FASHION - BY RACHEL LAW

I Ttakes one slip into Yoke & Theam’s sandals to un­der­stand why they be­came an in­stant hit when the brand launched a year ago. The shoe la­bel has man­aged to strike a bal­ance be­tween style and com­fort, a dilemma that fash­ion-con­scious con­sumers still strug­gle with de­spite vast se­lec­tions of footwear across the mar­ket.

Sis­ters be­hind the brand Yoke Git (aka Yokie) and Yoke Sin stayed true to their phi­los­o­phy in the third col­lec­tion for Au­tumn 2016. To boost snug­ness, the Theam sis­ters laid an ex­tra soft mi­cro-fi­bre lin­ing and spongy foot-bed upon durable rub­ber sole, top­ping it off with a leather up­per and mono­gram de­tails for a lux­u­ri­ous fin­ish. As usual, both their strap de­signs and chunky heels are trendy and loved.

“Our cus­tomers like the moder­ate 2.5inch heels. They like to have a bit of height, and also be able to walk all day. Some peo­ple even wear the sandals for par­ties,” quipped Yokie, who’s the youngest of four sis­ters.

Boast­ing 11 vari­a­tions in four de­signs, Yoke & Theam’s Au­tumn 2016 col­lec­tion is avail­able on www.yokentheam.com and its stock­ists from Novem­ber.

First off, tell us about your Au­tumn 2016 col­lec­tion. What’s new? Yokie (YK): You’ll see sim­i­lar sil­hou­ettes be­cause we’re still in­spired by our past col­lec­tions. In­stead of re­leas­ing a new de­sign, we want to re­in­force what worked well. To add some­thing dif­fer­ent, we played with the fabri­ca­tion and ma­te­ri­als.

We kept the sporty chic el­e­ment with the use of per­fo­rated sponge for our Ivy sandals. We got the idea of in­cor­po­rat­ing a heel tab (aka pull strap) from sneakers, so the san­dal looks sporty and cush­ions the heel. Yoke Sin (YS): We added a lot of leather into this range. Most of them (80%) is leather. YK: An­other el­e­ment we threw in is the ini­tials be­cause we want to re­in­force our brand iden­tity and her­itage. So you see that silk-screened and em­bossed on the back and front straps.

How do you fuse your in­di­vid­ual tastes into the la­bel? YS: We en­joy trav­el­ling and mu­sic. That’s a com­mon area we share and it brings a lot of cre­ativ­ity into our de­signs. YK: We have shared in­ter­ests in art, fash­ion, vin­tage stuff and film. To de­sign a col­lec­tion to­gether is not re­ally hard and of course we do have dif­fer­ent opin­ions some­times but the longer we work, the more we feel the brand and know what’s best for it. That’s a pri­or­ity for us.

In ret­ro­spect, what was the most chal­leng­ing part of es­tab­lish­ing your own shoe brand? YK: Pro­duc­tion, be­cause the shoes we were look­ing at were not what the fac­tory was al­ready do­ing. So it took time for pro­duc­tion to be smooth. An­other chal­lenge we faced is mul­tira­cial fit­ting – dif­fer­ent race groups have dif­fer­ent feet shapes. YS: For ex­am­ple, Malay in­di­vid­u­als have thicker arches, while Chi­nese in­di­vid­u­als have longer feet. YK: The chal­lenge is to make shoes that are beau­ti­ful yet wear­able. Some shoes are re­ally com­fort­able to wear, but their sil­hou­ette and lines are not ap­peal­ing. We want an ap­peal­ing out­line and cor­rect fit­ting. We had dif­fer­ent peo­ple try our shoes to make sure they fit ev­ery­one. If it’s not right, we’d change and ad­just.

Would Yoke & Theam branch out into men’s or uni­sex shoes? YK: We’ve been get­ting a lot of re­quests to

come up with a men’s col­lec­tion. It shouldn’t be a prob­lem – we’ll do a small cap­sule, with four styles per­haps. YS: Like Yokie said be­fore, we want to cre­ate a gen­der­less con­cept. We don’t want to limit women to a spe­cific im­age – a woman can be mas­cu­line yet fem­i­nine. They go through dif­fer­ent phases and chal­lenges ev­ery day. YK: Nowa­days you see men wear­ing heels! They’re not only for women, like­wise chunky sandals are no longer just for men.

What’s in store for Yoke & Theam in 2017? YK: One of our am­bi­tions is to ex­pand our brand over­seas, so we need to make sure that our shoes have an in­ter­na­tional ap­peal. If we want to ex­port, we have to take part in trade shows be­cause there’s where the buy­ers are. We have a Sin­ga­porean stockist now, and we’ve had cus­tomers from Hong Kong, Tai­wan, Philip­pines and In­done­sia buy­ing through Zalora, but we’d prob­a­bly join one or two shows next year. YS: We don’t want to limit our­selves to sandals. We’re in the process of di­ver­si­fy­ing our cat­e­gory of shoes in­clud­ing flats and heels. We’re still new and learn­ing, nonethe­less we want it to be per­fect when it’s time to present it.

The Theam sis­ters run the brand hands-on, from de­sign­ing and mar­ket­ing to over­see­ing pro­duc­tion.

Yoke & Theam’s Au­tumn 2016 col­lec­tion boasts 11 vari­a­tions in four de­signs.

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